ARLINGTON, Texas – It’s the annual reminder that we’ve nearly trudged all the way through the offseason desert.
The Big 12’s annual media days descend upon AT&T Stadium on Monday and Tuesday, providing fans with a needed appetizer to tide them over before the season begins.
Tuesday will mark the media day debut for West Virginia coach Neal Brown, who has already shown he can talk a good game in his first offseason with the Mountaineers.
Here are five of the most interesting storylines of this year’s media days:
Who are you?
No major conference will be introducing as many new faces as the Big 12 this season.
Including Neal Brown, there are four coaches debuting in the league. Texas Tech’s Matt Wells comes from Utah State, Kansas State’s Chris Klieman comes from North Dakota State, and Kansas’ Les Miles comes from a year of acting in a Dr. Pepper commercial.
Miles is not new to the spotlight, of course. He coached at LSU from 2005-2016, making two national championship game appearances – the first of which only occurred due to West Virginia’s infamous slip-up against Pitt in 2007.
It’s not The Mad Hatter’s first rodeo in the Big 12. Miles coached at Oklahoma State from 2001-04.
Can Miles justify length of Williams suspension?
Miles has thrown himself straight into the fire prior to his first media day with the Jayhawks.
Last week he announced that running back Pooka Williams would be suspended for Kansas’ first game against Indiana State. Williams was charged with punching a woman he was dating in December, but was able to enter a diversion program that will include anger management counseling and 40 hours of community service.
Williams is by far the biggest star on the Jayhawks roster. A preseason all-Big 12 selection, he rushed for 1,125 yards as a freshman last season.
Sitting Williams against an FCS opponent feels like a slap on the wrist given what took place. Miles may have a difficult time convincing folks that a lesser-talented player would get the same punishment.
What will Sam say?
Sam Ehlinger isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
The brash Texas quarterback famously threatened revenge against anyone who flashed the “Horns Down” sign after losing to West Virginia last season. After the Longhorns beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, Ehlinger proclaimed that Texas was “back” on national TV.
Will he be buttoned-down and boring in a controlled environment, or continue to build his persona?
How will Brown respond to low expectations?
West Virginia is picked eighth in the Big 12 preseason poll, which by process of elimination means that the Big 12 media doesn’t think the Mountaineers will make a bowl game this year. Mountaineer fans will probably be interested to see how Brown responds to what many would perceive as a slight.
Will Riley discuss attempt to block Austin Kendall’s transfer?
Quarterback Austin Kendall’s attempt to transfer to West Virginia was nearly derailed by Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, who finally relented after initially blocking the transfer in January.
Riley has talked about his thought process in the situation to Oklahoma-based reporters, but this will be the first time anyone from the outside has a chance to hold his feet to the fire.